Sky has launched a new on-screen guide for Sky+HD users. The new electronic programme guide (EPG) offers easier recording, a mini screen for uninterrupted viewing, and a rather clever search filter.
The first group of HD customers to use the interface will tune in -- with no need to adjust their set -- from tomorrow, Tuesday 10 March. As our telly guru Ian Morris put it: "It's about time!"
Sky's on-screen guide has always been one of the better interfaces, but has been looking a bit long in the tooth of late. This update has been long delayed, and is gleefully anticipated to bring the user interface up to speed with the flashiness of high-definition content.
There's an improved 'now, next and later' guide, pictured above. This features a mini guide that lets you see up to up to 12 hours ahead without having to minimise the actual programme itself.
If you can't decide what to watch, the search function has been improved by allowing you to type in a programme title or even filter by genre, such as 'horror movies' or 'sitcoms' or 'Danish existential horror hospital dramas'. Probably.
The most welcome change is a minimised screen that allows you to keep watching your programme when you're browsing the planner. So, even if you're hoping for something better to watch, you won't lose the thread of Diagnosis Murder while you check to see what time Cash in the Attic starts.
If you're keen to ensure your beautiful HDTV is never sullied by crass old standard definition, the text and graphics themselves are HD, while HD content is flagged in yellow in the listings. There's even an 'HD-only' tab if you're a total HD fascist.
When you've chosen your show, you'll find that recording single episodes and whole series is now easier. When you hit 'record', a prompt will appear asking if you want to record just the one episode or the whole series. You won't need to go back to the planner, as you can record and series link from the TV guide and the 'now, next and later' banner. Once you have recorded a series, all the episodes will be grouped together in a series stack for easy access from your planner, pictured above, complete with deliberate mistake. Casion Royale, anyone?
The technology won't be trickling down to non-HD users, although Sky did tell us that ongoing investments are being made in the current standard-definition EPG.